California-based Zuora, which provides SaaS solutions for subscription management and billing, is partnering with Salesforce.com to deliver a new product designed for the communications industry.  According to a blog post from Shawn Price, president of Zuora, the new offering—called Zuora for Communications—will provide “billing and customer care in a unified solution for managing the entire subscription commerce lifecycle …entirely in the cloud.” Is this a potential recurring revenue billing solution for MSPs?

Zuora was founded in 2008 by Tien Tzuo, who held various executive roles at Salesforce.com before launching the new company.  In the few years since then, Zuora has compiled a lengthy list of clients that includes names like Ricoh, Reed Business Information, and Sun.  While the company started with its Z-Billing solution, Zuora has been quick to launch a variety of new products that leverage SaaS and cloud technology. The company’s lineup includes:
  • Z-Commerce Platform, which Zuora describes as a "commerce-as-a-service" plug in.
  • Z-Commerce for Media, designed for publishers looking to generate revenue from online content.
  • Z-Commerce for the Cloud, a solution for cloud computing vendors that facilitates metering, pricing, and billing.
The company boasts that (aside from the usual set of benefits you get with a managed service, such as easy implementation, no need to maintain the infrastructure, and so on) Zuora for Communications will allow communications companies to act and react more quickly--an area Price criticizes the communications industry of failing at. In his blog post, Price says:
“Carriers aren’t unifying their customers’ interactions. Sure, you might be able to check your minutes used with their iPhone app…but what if you could also upgrade to the next tier if you were about to go over on your data plan? You might have a handle on your data usage at home, but when travelling abroad I know that I shut off my data plan, else risk coming home with a 4-figure bill. Why can’t the carriers make it easy for me to see this happening in real-time and make the adjustments to my plan to accommodate what I really need?

“That’s why today Zuora is launching a brand new product and partnership with salesforce.com for the communications industry. We’ll be delivering billing and customer care in a unified solution for managing the entire subscription commerce lifecycle…entirely in the cloud. Zuora for Communications will give communication service providers the speed and flexibility to launch new services, price, package, and bill for services in new ways, and connect with customers across the web, over the phone, and on mobile devices. In fact, Zuora and salesforce are already doing that for hundreds of companies, including Open Range Communications and Barrett Xplore.”
MSPmentor hears quite a bit from MSPs seeking a single, unified billing option for cloud and managed services. Plus, ConnectWise CEO Arnie Bellini has been evangelizing vendor management to MSPs and VARs. The idea is for channel partners to manage all interactions between IT vendors and SMB customers, including the billing for all services whenever possible. But we concede: MSPmentor has to get a better feel for all the different types of billing systems MSPs leverage, especially as third-party cloud systems gain popularity. If you've got favorites we're all ears.

Additional insights from Joe Panettieri. Sign up for MSPmentor’s Weekly Enewsletter, Webcasts and Resource Center. Follow us via RSS, Facebook and Twitter. Check out more MSP voices at www.MSPtweet.com. Read our editorial disclosure here.